In the typical manner of modern liberalism, Laurie David, the producer of environmental agitprop An Inconvenient Truth, is not so concerned about the environment when it comes to her own property. (Via Instapundit.)
PJ O’Rourke explains why the love affair with cars is over; they’re just too important now:
Cars didn’t shape our existence; cars let us escape with our lives. We’re way the heck out here in Valley Bottom Heights and Trout Antler Estates because we were at war with the cities. We fought rotten public schools, idiot municipal bureaucracies, corrupt political machines, rampant criminality and the pointy-headed busybodies. Cars gave us our dragoons and hussars, lent us speed and mobility, let us scout the terrain and probe the enemy’s lines. And thanks to our cars, when we lost the cities we weren’t forced to surrender, we were able to retreat.
Truer words were never spoken.
The London Times reports:
An Egyptian cabinet minister who offered to burn Hebrew books last year entered the final straight as favorite for leadership of UNESCO Friday in the face of fierce opposition from Jewish groups and intellectuals in Europe.
Farouk Hosni, 71, an artist who has served as Culture Minister for 21 years, apologized this week for his book-burning call and is still deemed front-runner among seven contenders for the post of director-general of the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
A book burner as the UN chief for education, science, and culture. That seems about right.
The Taliban have fled the Pakistani army’s advance on the main town in the Swat Valley, delivering the military a strategic prize in its offensive against militants in the country’s northwest, commanders said Saturday.
The President and his spokesman both admitted that Sotomayor spoke poorly when she said “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” However, both said that her statement was taken out of context. The problem with that contention is Sotomayor’s statement was not an isolated one. It’s from her peroration in an entire speech dedicated to the impact of race and gender on judging. This was basically the thesis of the entire speech.
The bottom line is, this is exactly what the president said he wanted, a justice whose life experience gave her “empathy.” The problem is she expressed it in too direct a fashion, making it clear how ugly the idea is.
The right tack for Republicans to take is not to try to block Sotomayor’s appointment. They can’t do it anyway. Also, who’s to say that the next nomination would be better? Rather, as Glenn Reynolds suggested on PJM Political, the Republicans should use this as a teaching moment. They should open a debate on whether justice should be guided by race and gender, or whether perhaps impartial justice might be better. That’s a debate that Republicans can win, and start to correct the misapprehension that many Americans have of this administration.
The Justice Department says this is no big deal:
The Washington Times reports:
Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews.
The incident – which gained national attention when it was captured on videotape and distributed on YouTube – had prompted the government to sue the men, saying they violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by scaring would-be voters with the weapon, racial slurs and military-style uniforms.
Career lawyers pursued the case for months, including obtaining an affidavit from a prominent 1960s civil rights activist who witnessed the confrontation and described it as “the most blatant form of voter intimidation” that he had seen, even during the voting rights crisis in Mississippi a half-century ago.
The lawyers also had ascertained that one of the three men had gained access to the polling place by securing a credential as a Democratic poll watcher, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Washington Times.
The career Justice lawyers were on the verge of securing sanctions against the men earlier this month when their superiors ordered them to reverse course, according to interviews and documents. The court had already entered a default judgment against the men on April 20.
A Justice Department spokesman on Thursday confirmed that the agency had dropped the case, dismissing two of the men from the lawsuit with no penalty and winning an order against the third man that simply prohibits him from bringing a weapon to a polling place in future elections. . .
The three men named in the complaint – New Black Panther Chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz, Minister King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson – refused to appear in court to answer the accusations over a near-five month period, court records said. . .
Court records show that as late as May 5, the Justice Department was still considering an order by U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell in Philadelphia to seek judgments, or sanctions, against the three Panthers because of their failure to appear. But 10 days later, the department reversed itself and filed a notice of voluntary dismissal from the complaint for Malik Zulu Shabazz and Mr. Jackson.
Apparently, President Obama’s political appointees at the Justice Department think that a suitable penalty for blatant voter intimidation (by Democrats) is a court order not to do it any more.
This scandal may have legs. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, is demanding answers.
Riehl World View spots a dishonest hit piece at the HuffPo. (Shocking, I know.)
Since the Riehl World View post, the HuffPo has improved its headline a little bit, replacing its original false headline “Rob Portman Escorted Out Of VA Hospital For Campaigning” with one that merely insinuates a falsehood “Rob Portman Leaves VA Hospital After Being Told That Campaigning There Is Illegal.” The new headline is technically truthful, in that it accurately expresses the chronological order of two unrelated events.
With a professor of constitutional law as president, one might have hoped for better than this. On the blog of the special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, he indicates that the White House will restrict the manner in which citizens can petition their government:
Section 3 of the Memorandum required all oral communications between federally registered lobbyists and government officials concerning Recovery Act policy to be disclosed on the Internet; barred registered lobbyists from having oral communications with government officials about specific Recovery Act projects or applications and instead required those communications to be in writing; and also required those written communications to be posted on the Internet. . .
Following OMB’s review, the Administration has decided to make a number of changes to the rules that we think make them even tougher on special interests and more focused on merits-based decision making.
First, we will expand the restriction on oral communications to cover all persons, not just federally registered lobbyists. For the first time, we will reach contacts not only by registered lobbyists but also by unregistered ones, as well as anyone else exerting influence on the process.
Apparently, the White House intends to prohibit citizens from speaking to their government about the stimulus bill. Let’s never hear any more nonsense about the left and its concern for civil liberties.
ASIDE: It’s telling that an administration with very little regard for transparency (other than lip service galore) would suddenly see the light when the spectre of public comment rears its ugly head.
Beyond restricting the manner of public comment, the White House also wishes to restrict its content:
Second, we will focus the restriction on oral communications to target the scenario where concerns about merit-based decision-making are greatest –after competitive grant applications are submitted and before awards are made. Once such applications are on file, the competition should be strictly on the merits. To that end, comments (unless initiated by an agency official) must be in writing and will be posted on the Internet for every American to see.
(Emphasis mine.) Who could argue with limiting public discourse to the merits? Well, there’s the question of who determines merit in public discourse. The White House, presumably. But beyond that, the Constitution authorizes no such restriction anyway. If I want to criticize a project on some worthless grounds like astrology or numerology, that’s my right.
The best that can be said about this is their means (posting comments publicly) is unlikely to achieve their ends (restricting discourse). But look out for their future means.
(CREDIT: Title borrowed from ShopFloor.)
A San Diego TV station reports:
A local pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a San Diego County official, who then threatened them with escalating fines if they continued to hold Bible studies in their home, 10News reported.
Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center For Law & Policy was shocked with what happened to the pastor and his wife.
Broyles said, “The county asked, ‘Do you have a regular meeting in your home?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say amen?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you pray?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say praise the Lord?’ ‘Yes.’”
The county employee notified the couple that the small Bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of County regulations, according to Broyles.
Broyles said a few days later the couple received a written warning that listed “unlawful use of land” and told them to “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit” — a process that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
I’m sure San Diego County will back away from this very quickly. But more than that, someone should be fired. It’s not good enough simply to back away from intimidation when you’re called on it.
UPDATE: The county is indeed backing down. They’re not admitting any wrongdoing yet, but claim to be investigating.
There’s a fact not to lose sight of here. The county says that this was a routine code enforcement gone awry. Indeed, it went very far awry if the county official was investigating the religious practice of the participants. But set that aside; let’s suppose it didn’t happen that way, or consider a hypothetical case in which the official behaved “properly.” The county is still on very shaky ground. According to my understanding of the law, strict scrutiny applies even for unintentional impairment of freedom of religion. That is to say, the county must make accommodations for religious gatherings that it might not make for other gatherings.
Australia may be backing away from nationwide internet censorship:
THE Rudd Government has indicated that it may back away from its mandatory internet filtering plan.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today told a Senate estimates committee that the filtering scheme could be implemented by a voluntary industry code.
Senator Conroy’s statement is a departure from the internet filtering policy Labor took into the October 2007 election to make it mandatory for ISPs to block offensive and illegal content.
Responding to questions from shadow communications minister Nick Minchin on how the government may go about imposing the internet filtering scheme, Senator Conroy said that legislation may not be required and ISPs may adopt an industry consensus to block restricted content on a voluntary basis.
I sure hope so. We’ve already seen the system used to suppress political content.
The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) has ordered a student to cease her efforts to organize a student group supporting gun rights, and labeled those efforts “academic misconduct”:
FIRE Press Release
PITTSBURGH, May 27, 2009—A student who wants to form a gun-rights group at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) has been threatened with disciplinary action for her efforts. Student Christine Brashier has turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help after reporting that administrators banned her informational pamphlets, ordered her to destroy all copies of them, and told her that further “academic misconduct” would not be tolerated. . .
In April, CCAC student Christine Brashier created pamphlets to distribute to her classmates encouraging them to join her in forming a chapter of the national Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) organization at CCAC. The handbill states that the group “supports the legalization of concealed carry by licensed individuals on college campuses.” She personally distributed copies of the flyer, which identified her as a “Campus Leader” of the effort to start the chapter.
On April 24, Jean Snider, Student Development Specialist at CCAC’s Allegheny Campus, summoned Brashier to a meeting that day with Snider and Yvonne Burns, Dean of Student Development. According to Brashier, the deans told Brashier that passing out her non-commercial pamphlets was prohibited as “solicitation.” They told Brashier that trying to “sell” other students on the idea of the organization was prohibited.
CCAC also told Brashier that the college must pre-approve any distribution of literature to fellow students, and that pamphlets like hers would not be approved, even insisting that Brashier destroy all copies of her pamphlet. . .
When Brashier stated that she wanted to be able to discuss this policy freely on campus, she was told to stop doing so without the permission of the CCAC administration. Dean Burns reportedly said, “You may want to discuss this topic but the college does not, and you cannot make us.” Brashier was then told to cease all activities related to her involvement with SCCC at CCAC and that such “academic misconduct” would not be tolerated.
FIRE wrote CCAC President Alex Johnson on April 29 about these violations of Brashier’s First Amendment speech and association rights, pointing out that her free speech in no way constituted solicitation, that CCAC is obligated to permit students to distribute literature and may not ban it on the basis of viewpoint or content, and that if CCAC recognizes student organizations at all, it must recognize an organization that supports concealed carry on campus. FIRE requested a response by May 13, and CCAC responded only by promising a reply from either CCAC or the Allegheny County Solicitor’s office at some “reasonable” future time. Two weeks have passed since that promise, leaving the First Amendment in jeopardy at CCAC.
Suppressing free speech is disgraceful. And, at a public college, illegal as well. But even worse is threatening students with bogus charges of academic misconduct. Anyone who would do that has no business at all running an academic institution.
Out of the three people frequently considered to be on President Obama’s short list (Sotomayor, Diane Wood, and the formidable Elena Kagan), it’s interesting that Obama chose by far the least talented. It’s also interesting how open he was about the paramount role played by biography in that decision. And if there’s any doubt what he was getting at with all the biography talk, Sotomayor has made it explicit.
The Independent, a British left-leaning paper, doesn’t understand America. Its recent article on Scientology on trial in France opens:
The Church of Scientology in France went on trial today on charges of organised fraud. Registered as a religion in the United States, with celebrity members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology enjoys no such legal protection in France and has faced repeated accusations of being a money-making cult.
(Emphasis mine.) (Via the Corner.)
That’s not how it works in America; we don’t register religions here. Scientology is protected, not by some sort of government registration, but by the First Amendment.
Of course Scientology is a preposterous fraudulent cult, but that’s beside the point. Cults are legal in the United States. What will bring Scientology down is its history of imprisoning and killing people.
Last week Arthur Laffer had a column on the ease for wealthy individuals to move to escape excessive state taxation. Today’s there’s a coda to that column. After Maryland instituted a millionaires’ tax their millionaires are disappearing:
Maryland couldn’t balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O’Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were “willing and able to pay their fair share.” The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would “grin and bear it.”
One year later, nobody’s grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. . . On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year — even at higher rates. . .
No doubt the majority of that loss in millionaire filings results from the recession. . . The Maryland state revenue office says it’s “way too early” to tell how many millionaires moved out of the state when the tax rates rose. But no one disputes that some rich filers did leave. It’s easier than the redistributionists think. Christopher Summers, president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute, notes: “Marylanders with high incomes typically own second homes in tax friendlier states like Florida, Delaware, South Carolina and Virginia. So it’s easy for them to change their residency.”
Yet another bogus NYT story:
Edmund Andrews, Times financial reporter, is promoting a new book claiming to detail his personal journey through the dark underside of easy mortgages and financial distress.
The NY Times gave him space in the NY Times magazine to talk up his story and his book. But missing from the story is any mention of the fact that his wife has filed for personal bankruptcy not once, but twice. For a story about personal finances, that is a staggering omission, leading to some absurd phoniness in the Andrews tale.
How did the book happen? Clark Hoyt, the NYT ombudsman, explains:
In the fall of 2007, Andrews went to his editors with a book proposal. He wanted to tell how the subprime mortgage crisis happened — greedy lenders, regulators who looked the other way and people like himself who made foolish choices.
Though the timing was terrible for The Times — Andrews was the main Washington reporter on the story — he burned to illuminate a national crisis through his personal experience. And he had another strong reason: He needed money.
“I was desperate,” he said. He still is. Seven months behind on his mortgage, he may lose his home unless “Busted,” which comes out this week, is a hit.
So the book arose in circumstances that maximize the likelihood of an ethical breach, and was nevertheless okayed by the editors. Thanks for the explanation. I have to say, Hoyt has a unique ability to write defenses of the New York Times that make it seem even worse than before.
Fox News reports:
President Obama has asked for an internal investigation of a photo-op featuring the presidential jet that sent thousands of New Yorkers running for their lives — and sent officials in Washington, D.C., running for political cover.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday Obama was “furious” when he heard about the incident and has ordered a deputy chief of staff of find out “why that decision was made and to ensure that it never happens again.”
Perhaps the White House’s decision to change the White House military office director from a career military position to a political appointment might have played a role?
In a statement that can only be described as bizarre, President Obama claims that our fiscal problems are the result of our failure to establish universal health care:
Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we’ve made on health care so far. This is a consequence of the crisis that we’ve seen and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades.
In the real world, massive entitlement programs cost the government money. In the Obama world, apparently they somehow save money.
Last week’s pair of national-security speeches from President Obama and former Vice-President Cheney amounted to something of a debate. Like the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the participants spoke at length on a single topic, and did so back-to-back. With modern technology, a joint appearance was not necessary for the press to cover both speeches as a single event.
Since Cheney’s speech was scheduled first, and then the president decided to schedule his at the exact same time, the White House must have thought that a debate served their purposes. Perhaps that’s because he had the advantage of staging (setting his own speech at the national archives) and knew that the press would edit his remarks more favorably than Cheney’s. Nevertheless, the president seems to be losing the debate.
A new Rasmussen poll, out today (via Instapundit), indicates that the public disagree with the president decision to close the Guantanamo prison by a 49-38 margin, and disagree with the president’s contention that the prison has damaged national security by a 51-25 margin. By a 57-28 margin the public opposes moving the Guantanamo detainees to US prisons. The poll didn’t ask about releasing them in the United States (as proposed by the Attorney General), but given these numbers it seems safe to assume that public opinion would be overwhelmingly against it.
Support for the president’s position has been steadily eroding since Inauguration Day. In January 42% supported keeping the prison open. The number has risen to 46% in April, and then to 49% today. Meanwhile, the number who believe the prison will “very likely” be closed has dropped to 15%, down from 49% last November.
I’m delighted to see a real debate take place in American politics. The events that we call “debates” with their two-minute statements are truly shabby affairs, designed for sound bites rather than substance. In a real debate, the strength of the case is paramount. I wish this would happen more often.
POSTSCRIPT: In a related item, another poll seems to show “the more Dick Cheney talks, the more Americans seem to like him.” (Via Instapundit.)
A Pentagon report concludes that one in seven of those detainees released from the Guantanamo prison have already returned to terrorism. This is all the more troubling when you consider that those were the detainees that were considered safe to release. More troubling still, the report’s release is being held up for political reasons, reports the New York Times:
An unreleased Pentagon report concludes that about one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad from the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, are engaged in terrorism or militant activity, according to administration officials.
The conclusion could strengthen the arguments of critics who have warned against the transfer or release of any more detainees as part of President Obama’s plan to shut down the prison by January. Past Pentagon reports on Guantánamo recidivism have been met with skepticism from civil liberties groups and criticized for their lack of detail.
The Pentagon promised in January that the latest report would be released soon, but Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said this week that the findings were still “under review.”
Two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the report was being held up by Defense Department employees fearful of upsetting the White House, at a time when even Congressional Democrats have begun to show misgivings over Mr. Obama’s plan to close Guantánamo.
The NYT dutifully relates the skepticism of civil liberties groups for the report’s lack of detail, adding:
Among the 74 former prisoners that the report says are again engaged in terrorism, 29 have been identified by name by the Pentagon, including 16 named for the first time in the report. The Pentagon has said that the remaining 45 could not be named because of national security and intelligence-gathering concerns. . .
The Pentagon has provided no way of authenticating its 45 unnamed recidivists, and only a few of the 29 people identified by name can be independently verified as having engaged in terrorism since their release. Many of the 29 are simply described as associating with terrorists or training with terrorists, with almost no other details provided.
Of course, you would expect that much of the report would be based on sensitive information that the Pentagon would not want to make public. Nevertheless Thomas Joscelyn points out that several recidivists can be verified through public sources. And these recidivists are costing human lives. For instance, one detonated a suicide bomb in Mosul, killing 13 Iraqis and wounding 42 others.
Remember, the releasees so far are the ones that were deemed safe to release. What happens when we start releasing the others?
(Via Power Line.)
Well, Obama really didn’t really want to give this speech. He had to. I mean, he wasn’t elected to be a national security president. He is a domestic president, and that’s his agenda.
But his hand was forced because there was an open rebellion in Congress over the Guantanamo issue. The senators wanted a decision, and he gave them an essay. The senators wanted a president, and he gave them a professor.
What he did was he outlined the five categories of prisoners in Guantanamo, an interesting exercise that you would expect out of a graduate student, in which you have got those who can be tried in regular courts and those who have to be in military tribunals, and those that will not be taken by allies, as if any allies are taking them, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, a freshman in college could tell you that.
And then he says the fifth category, those whom you cannot try, either because the crimes are committed but the evidence is tainted, or because they have not yet committed a crime but they sure as hell will if released, there are those whom you cannot try and you cannot release. And then he says, “And that’s the really difficult issue.”
No kidding. I mean, who would have thought that was the problem about these prisoners? Of course everybody knows that.
So what was his answer? He doesn’t have an answer. What he says is he is going to work with Congress and work out a framework of detaining these people.
I think that’s right. We’ve frequently seen polls say that the public likes President Obama much more than his policies. This was an effort by the president to paste an extra measure of his personal popularity onto a policy no one wants.
Plus, Peter Wehner notices the hypocrisy of the president’s choice of venue:
I couldn’t help but notice that during his speech yesterday, President Obama spoke in reverential terms about the Constitution. Yet when it comes to his own judicial philosophy — and, I expect, to his Supreme Court nominee — the Constitution will be viewed with a great deal less veneration. It will be seen as a “living” document, one that has no fixed meaning and can be reinterpreted for any reason at all, with new rights being manufactured out of thin air and rights enumerated in the Constitution conveniently ignored.
This sounds wrong:
You may not know it, but if you have a wireless router, a cordless phone, remote car-door opener, baby monitor or cellphone in your house, the FCC claims the right to enter your home without a warrant at any time of the day or night in order to inspect it.
That’s the upshot of the rules the agency has followed for years to monitor licensed television and radio stations, and to crack down on pirate radio broadcasters. And the commission maintains the same policy applies to any licensed or unlicensed radio-frequency device.
“Anything using RF energy — we have the right to inspect it to make sure it is not causing interference,” says FCC spokesman David Fiske. That includes devices like Wi-Fi routers that use unlicensed spectrum, Fiske says. . .
George Washington University professor Orin Kerr, a constitutional law expert, also questions the legalilty of the policy.
“The Supreme Court has said that the government can’t make warrantless entries into homes for administrative inspections,” Kerr said via e-mail, refering to a 1967 Supreme Court ruling that housing inspectors needed warrants to force their way into private residences. The FCC’s online FAQ doesn’t explain how the agency gets around that ruling, Kerr adds. . .
Refusing the FCC admittance can carry a harsh financial penalty. In a 2007 case, a Corpus Christi, Texas, man got a visit from the FCC’s direction-finders after rebroadcasting an AM radio station through a CB radio in his home. An FCC agent tracked the signal to his house and asked to see the equipment; Donald Winton refused to let him in, but did turn off the radio. Winton was later fined $7,000 for refusing entry to the officer.
In the wake of the Chrysler-UAW deal, investors are becoming reluctant to lend to heavily unionized firms.
Arthur Laffer (yes, that Laffer) takes a look at capital mobility and state taxes. His results should be no surprise:
Here’s the problem for states that want to pry more money out of the wallets of rich people. It never works because people, investment capital and businesses are mobile: They can leave tax-unfriendly states and move to tax-friendly states.
And the evidence that we discovered in our new study for the American Legislative Exchange Council, “Rich States, Poor States,” published in March, shows that Americans are more sensitive to high taxes than ever before. The tax differential between low-tax and high-tax states is widening, meaning that a relocation from high-tax California or Ohio, to no-income tax Texas or Tennessee, is all the more financially profitable both in terms of lower tax bills and more job opportunities.
Updating some research from Richard Vedder of Ohio University, we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas. We also found that over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.
Did the greater prosperity in low-tax states happen by chance? Is it coincidence that the two highest tax-rate states in the nation, California and New York, have the biggest fiscal holes to repair? No. Dozens of academic studies — old and new — have found clear and irrefutable statistical evidence that high state and local taxes repel jobs and businesses.
The Obama administration succeeded in bullying Chrysler’s major private creditors out of objecting to the Chrysler-UAW deal, but the state of Indiana is objecting on behalf of the retirement plans of its teachers and state police.
This is very good news. Despite the deal being illegal, the administration was on the verge of getting away with it, and setting a terrible precedent in the process. Now there should be a real hearing in court.
Wow. Whenever you think you’ve heard it all, you’re wrong:
Beverly Anderson is mad as hell. She just started to get tickets for parking in her own driveway. That’s right. The District of Columbia is ticketing people who park their cars in their own driveways. . .
What does the law say?
“Any area between the property line and the building restriction line shall be considered as private property set aside and treated as public space under the care and maintenance of the property owner.”
Basically what that means is most property owners in the District don’t own the land between their front door and the sidewalk, but they are responsible for taking care of it. It’s why you can get a ticket for drinking beer on your front porch in the Nation’s Capital. You’re technically on public space. It’s also why the city can ticket you for parking in your own driveway if you don’t pull your car deep enough into the driveway beyond the façade of your house or building.
To be clear, we’re not talking about people who park in shallow driveways and let the rear of their cars block the sidewalk. The cars are off the road, off the sidewalk and in the driveway – just not far enough back for the city. . .
When Anderson complained to a supervisor at DPW she was told that she could lease the property from the District and avoid future tickets.
The District of Columbia wants to lease people their own driveways. This is what happens when a government has no fear of its constituents.
Megan McArdle tells it like it is:
So what about California? A reader asks. Ummm, that’s a tough one. No, wait, it’s not: California is completely, totally, irreparably hosed. And not a little garden hose. More like this. Their outflow is bigger than their inflow. You can blame Republicans who won’t pass a budget, or Democrats who spend every single cent of tax money that comes in during the booms, borrow some more, and then act all surprised when revenues, in a totally unprecedented, inexplicable, and unforeseaable chain of events, fall during a recession. You can blame the initiative process, and the uneducated voters who try to vote themselves rich by picking their own pockets. Whoever is to blame, the state was bound to go broke one day, and hey, today’s that day!
California must be allowed to suffer the consequences of its bizarre irresponsibility and go bankrupt. If the federal government bails out California it will be beginning of the end of our federal system. California will become a subsidiary of the federal government, and in return will obtain a massive subsidy from the responsible and only-moderately-irresponsible states.
Worse, once California has shown that there’s no need to manage your own budget, other states will surely follow the same path, and ultimately be taken over as well. The precedent will be set that states effectively can exchange local control for a massive federal subsidy. In time, independent state government will be just too expensive for all but the reddest of red states.
We’ve become accustomed to our economic dominance in the world, forgetting that it wasn’t reckless deals and get-rich-quick schemes that got us there; but hard work and smart ideas -quality products and wise investments. So we started taking shortcuts. We started living on credit, instead of building up savings.
President Obama, ASU commencement address
Credit cards have long been a very good deal for people who pay their bills on time and in full. Even as card companies imposed punitive fees and penalties on those late with their payments, the best customers racked up cash-back rewards, frequent-flier miles and other perks in recent years.
Now Congress is moving to limit the penalties on riskier borrowers, who have become a prime source of billions of dollars in fee revenue for the industry. And to make up for lost income, the card companies are going after those people with sterling credit.
Banks are expected to look at reviving annual fees, curtailing cash-back and other rewards programs and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period of weeks, according to bank officials and trade groups.
“It will be a different business,” said Edward L. Yingling, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association, which has been lobbying Congress for more lenient legislation on behalf of the nation’s biggest banks. “Those that manage their credit well will in some degree subsidize those that have credit problems.”
(Via Hot Air.)
It’s a basic principle that anyone (even a politician) should be able to understand that you get more of whatever you subsidize.
UPDATE: The bill passed the House 361-64, so I suppose this has to be considered bipartisan foolishness.
UPDATE: Yingling also made this key point, quoted by the Washington Post but not the NYT:
“This bill fundamentally changes the entire business model of credit cards by restricting the ability to price credit for risk,” said Edward L. Yingling, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association. He said that lending would become more risky and that, “It is a fundamental rule of lending that an increase in risk means that less credit will be available and that the credit that is available will often have a higher interest rate.”
I’m no fan of Harry Reid, to say the least, but this AP story on three supposed Reid gaffes just isn’t right. The first two “gaffes” (regarding the health of Democratic senators) are dubious, and unimportant even if he was wrong. Then, the substantive one:
Reid also mangled his party’s position on the congressional news of the day, that Senate Democrats would join their House counterparts in withholding the money President Barack Obama needs to close the Guantanamo Bay prison until Obama comes up with a plan for relocating its prisoners.
But Reid went further than saying he wanted to see a plan for the money before Congress approves it. “We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States,” he said.
No one, of course, was talking about releasing terrorism suspects among the American populace. Imprisoning them, perhaps, but not releasing them.
I truly wish this were true. We certainly shouldn’t be talking about releasing terrorism suspects among the American populace. But we are:
Attorney General Eric Holder said some detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may end up being released in the U.S. as the Obama administration works with foreign allies to resettle some of the prisoners.
The gaffe here belongs to the AP, not Reid. As far as Reid goes, I just wish we could trust that he really means it.
Rhetoric meets reality:
Senate Democrats have decided to pull $80 million from the $91 billion war spending request — money President Obama had requested to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by Jan. 22, 2010.
A senior Democratic Senate aide told FOX News the caucus will pull the money and await a plan for closing Guantanamo before putting forward any funding. The caucus pulled back after it was hit hard in recent weeks by criticism from Republicans about the lack of a plan for closing the prison. . .
The House withholds all funding in its supplemental bill.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Britain’s parliamentary expense scandal claimed its biggest casualty on Tuesday when the speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, announced his resignation after politicians broke centuries of protocol and demanded he step down.
Mr. Martin, who has become a symbol of politician’s attempts to stop details of their expense claims being made public, made a short statement to the House of Parliament Tuesday afternoon announcing he will resign on 21 June. . .
On Monday, Mr. Martin — who as speaker heads the body that administers Parliament and has responsibility for politicians’ expenses — had dug to hold on to the post, even as MPs from all political parties called for his resignation. . .
Mr. Martin’s resignation marks the first time that a speaker has been forced from office since 1695; the role dates back to the 13th century. But allies of the speaker said that politicians were making him a scapegoat for a scandal that they are all involved in. . .
Mr. Martin’s near nine-year rule as speaker has been controversial for many years. Mr. Martin, who as speaker also acts as a moderator in House of Commons debates, was accused of showing bias towards MPs of his former party, the Labour Party, in debate. This year Mr. Martin hit the headlines after allowing police in to search the Common’s office of Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green, who was accused of leaking information.
But it was his attempts to keep expense information out of the public domain that have led to his recent troubles. Mr. Martin even took the case to the U.K.’s high court in a bid to stop details coming out.
The AP reports:
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has admitted to using a paragraph virtually word-for-word from a prominent liberal blogger without attribution.
Dowd acknowledged the error in an e-mail to The Huffington Post on Sunday, the Web site reported. The Times corrected her column online to give proper credit for the material to Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall.
The newspaper issued a formal correction on Monday and corrected the version that appears online.
Interestingly, though, Dowd contends that she didn’t actually do anything wrong. First, let’s look at the actual copy. Here is Josh Marshall’s version:
More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when we were looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Here is Dowd’s version (from a screenshot here):
More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.
I’ve marked the changes in bold, and you can see that the two are virtually identical. There’s no way to deny that this passage was cribbed from Marshall. Here’s where the story gets interesting.
Rather than simply say that she meant to credit Marshall and made a mistake, she tells a different story:
josh is right. I didn’t read his blog last week, and didn’t have any idea he had made that point until you informed me just now. i was talking to a friend of mine Friday about what I was writing who suggested I make this point, expressing it in a cogent — and I assumed spontaneous — way and I wanted to weave the idea into my column. but, clearly, my friend must have read josh marshall without mentioning that to me. we’re fixing it on the web, to give josh credit, and will include a note, as well as a formal correction tomorrow.
As Plagiarism Today observes, Dowd is claiming that she remembered 41 words verbatim from a 43-word quote that she heard spoken aloud once in the middle of a conversation, when the person who spoke it was also repeating it from memory. That simply isn’t believable. But perhaps by “talking to a friend” she actually means receiving email from a friend.
Anyway, let’s accept Dowd’s story at face value. Suppose Dowd did believe that those were her friend’s words, rather than a prominent blogger. Did she obtain permission to use her friend’s words? It’s not plagiarism only when you copy a prominent blogger. It’s very hard to believe that the friend would have given her permission to use his words in a column without it occurring to him to mention that they were not actually his words.
But let’s set that aside as well. Let’s assume that Dowd obtained permission to use her friend’s words verbatim, and the friend simply forgot that they weren’t his own words. This is the best possible light we can put Dowd in. Under all these assumptions, is what she did okay?
In an academic setting, it is certainly not. You can’t claim someone else’s words as your own, even with their permission. If you quote someone, you must make it clear that it is a quote, and give proper attribution. The failure to do so is plagiarism.
But, for the New York Times it seems it’s okay. Politico’s Michael Calderone put the question to them:
That raised other issues about whether it’s common practice for Dowd to use entire passages from friends in her column without attribution. And when I sent a follow-up email about this to Dowd, she didn’t respond. . .
So I put the question of whether this is common practice for columnists before Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal, who passed me along to PR. But now I’ve now received a statement supporting Dowd from spokesperson Diane McNulty.
Maureen had us correct the column online as soon as the error was brought to her attention, adding in the sourcing to Marshall’s blog. We ran a correction in today’s paper, referring readers to the correct version online.
There is no need to do anything further since there is no allegation, hint or anything else from Marshall that this was anything but an error. It was corrected. Journalists often use feeds from other staff journalists, free-lancers, stringers, a whole range of people. And from friends. Anyone with even the most passing acquaintance with Maureen’s work knows that she is happy and eager to give people credit.
I don’t understand how the fact that Marshall has no problem means the Times doesn’t do anything further. The paper has its own standards to upkeep regardless of who’s complaining or not.
I think Calderone is right (except for the part about the NYT having standards to maintain). What we have here is a black-and-white case in which Maureen Dowd knowingly was using someone else’s words without attribution. The New York Times, when asked specifically about the matter, says that’s okay. One might think that, in the wake of the Jayson Blair fiasco, they might be a little more cautious.
POSTSCRIPT: It’s not relevant to the plagiarism, but it seems necessary to mention that Marshall’s remark is BS. Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan in March 2002. At that time, the Bush Administration was already actively deliberating what to do about the Iraq problem. When else were they going to interrogate him? You can’t interrogate someone you don’t have.
Tickets at the new taxpayer-financed Yankee Stadium are a wee bit overpriced:
Ticket prices at the new Yankee Stadium are so high that if a New Yorker wants to watch a Mariners/Yankees game from the best seats, it would be a lot cheaper to fly to Seattle, stay in a nice hotel, eat fancy dinners, and see two games.
- Option 1: Two tickets to Tuesday night, June 30, Mariners at Yanks, cost for just thetickets, $5,000.
- Option 2: Two round-trip airline tickets to Seattle, Friday, Aug. 14, return Sunday the 16th, rental car for three days, two-night double occupancy stay in four-star hotel, two top tickets to both the Saturday and Sunday Yanks-Mariners games, two best-restaurant-in-town dinners for two. Total cost, $2,800. Plus-frequent flyer miles.
Well, I guess we didn’t really need a secret bunker for the Vice-President:
Vice President Joe Biden, well-known for his verbal gaffes, may have finally outdone himself, divulging potentially classified information meant to save the life of a sitting vice president.
According to a report, while recently attending the Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, an annual event where powerful politicians and media elite get a chance to cozy up to one another, Biden told his dinnermates about the existence of a secret bunker under the old U.S. Naval Observatory, which is now the home of the vice president.
The bunker is believed to be the secure, undisclosed location former Vice President Dick Cheney remained under protection in secret after the 9/11 attacks.
The small justice to be found here is that this time Biden is only endangering himself. Of course, it won’t stay that way for long. No doubt they’ll soon be breaking ground on a new secret bunker, at significant cost. Perhaps Biden’s spin should be that this is his contribution to the stimulus effort.
I’ll bet the President wishes he could keep Biden in a secure, undisclosed location.
UPDATE: A Biden aide is denying the story, saying it’s just a room, not a secret bunker. But Eleanor Clift’s story was quite explicit. We’ll see what she says now.
Income is more disproportionately distributed in the US than in Western Europe. In 1998, for example, the richest 1 per cent of Americans took home 14 per cent of total income, while in Sweden the figure was only about 6 per cent. Wealth concentration is another matter, however. The richest 1 per cent of Americans owned about 21 per cent of all wealth in 2000. Some European nations have higher concentrations than that. In Sweden-despite that nation’s egalitarian reputation-the figure is 21 per cent, exactly the same as for the Americans. And if we take account of the massive moving of wealth offshore and off-book permitted by Sweden’s tax authorities, the richest 1 per cent of Swedes are proportionately twice as well off as their American peers.
I think this underscores the fact that America is the nation of new money, while Europe (or Sweden at least) is about old money. In America, the land of opportunity, an entrepreneur can start a business that makes his or her fortune, and literally millions do. Opportunity leads to income inequality, because most people (due to lesser talent or inclination) will not become entrepreneurs. In Europe, great wealth tends to be inherited to a much greater extent. You can see this in the numbers above; how else can you get wealth inequality without income inequality?
What this illustrates is that income equality shouldn’t even be a goal. All income equality does is keep people from becoming rich. It bars the gates to affluence. Instead, the goal ought to be freedom, to place no obstacles in front of any person’s right to realize his or her potential. Naturally, some people will become rich. That’s a good thing.
POSTSCRIPT: Yes, I realize that by using Baldwin’s numbers to highlight a difference rather than a similarity I am missing his point.
The Economist reports:
HIS government espouses “21st-century socialism” and claims to stand for the working class. Yet Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s president, has never been a fan of his country’s trade unions. He portrays them as corrupt vestiges of a capitalist past and of the previous political order. Ever since he was first elected, in 1998, he has sought ways to bring them to heel. Having first tried and failed to take over the main trade-union confederation, he encouraged a pro-government rival. Now he wants to bypass the unions altogether, by establishing in their place “workers’ councils” that amount to branches of the ruling Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
A bill in the government-controlled National Assembly would eliminate collective bargaining and give powers in labour matters to the new councils. “The government’s policy is the total elimination of the union movement,” says Orlando Chirino, a former chavista who is one of the architects of the Labour Solidarity Movement, a new group which embraces unions from both sides of the country’s political divide and which defends union autonomy.
If this is surprising, you’re looking at Hugo Chavez the wrong way. Chavez is a totalitarian. He wants all power to rest with the government, under his control. Whatever he might feign to the people, his mission is not to serve the working class; his mission is to amass power for himself. Labor unions represent a power base distinct from his own, so he must destroy them.
The collapse of Detroit’s giants is a tragedy, affecting tens of thousands of current and former workers. But the best way to offer them support is directly, not by gerrymandering the rules. The investors in these firms are easily portrayed as vultures, but many are entrusted with the savings of ordinary people, and in any case all have a legal claim that entitles them to due process. In a crisis it is easy to put politics first, but if lenders fear their rights will be abused, other firms will find it more expensive to borrow, especially if they have unionised workforces that are seen to be friendly with the government.
It may be too late for Chrysler’s secured creditors and if GM’s lenders cannot reach a voluntary agreement, they may face a similar fate. That would establish a terrible precedent. Bankruptcy exists to sort legal claims on assets. If it becomes a tool of social policy, who will then lend to struggling firms in which the government has a political interest?
and his effort to crack down on business taxes:
No one doubts that America’s corporate-tax system is a Byzantine mess of high statutory rates and oodles of exemptions. But much of that complexity is caused by the divergence between America’s system of taxing its firms (and citizens) on their worldwide income and the territorial system used by most other countries. Mr Obama’s proposals, particularly his partial reversal of firms’ ability to defer taxes, would add yet more complexity. Nor is there much evidence that they would boost domestic job creation, as the administration claims. In fact, by raising the tax bills of American firms and putting them at a disadvantage beside their foreign peers, Mr Obama’s tax changes may reduce domestic job creation and even induce companies to move offshore.
In truth this plan is less an economic downpayment than a political one. Mr Obama needs more tax revenue, and corporate America’s foreign profits are an appealing pot of cash.
It seems that President Obama’s fiscal policies are modeled after his personal finances:
A close examination of their finances shows that the Obamas were living off lines of credit along with other income for several years until 2005, when Obama’s book royalties came through and Michelle received her 260% pay raise at the University of Chicago. This was also the year Obama started serving in the U.S. Senate. . .
In April 1999, they purchased a Chicago condo and obtained a mortgage for $159,250. In May 1999, they took out a line of credit for $20,750. Then, in 2002, they refinanced the condo with a $210,000 mortgage, which means they took out about $50,000 in equity. Finally, in 2004, they took out another line of credit for $100,000 on top of the mortgage.
Tax returns for 2004 reveal $14,395 in mortgage deductions. If we assume an effective interest rate of 6%, then they owed about $240,000 on a home they purchased for about $159,250. This means they spent perhaps $80,000 beyond their income from 1999 to 2004. . .
The Obama family apparently had little or no savings during this period since there was virtually no taxable interest shown on their tax returns.
In 2003, they reported almost $24,000 in child care expenses and, in 2004, about $23,000. They also paid about $3,400 in household employment taxes each year. And as Michelle stated, they spent $10,000 a year on “extracurriculars” for the children.
These numbers clearly show the Obamas were living beyond their means and they might have suffered financially during the decline in housing prices had they relied on taking ever larger amounts of equity from their home to pay the bills.
But in 2005, Obama’s book sales soared and the royalties poured in. Michelle explained, “It was like Jack and his magic beans.”
Without those magic beans, the Obama family would have eventually suffered the consequences of too much debt.
It seems that the president is relying on magic beans to do the same for our country as they did his family.
BONUS: In light of Mr. Obama’s reliance on magic beans to save his finances, James Taranto sees some chutzpah in Obama’s ASU commencement address:
We’ve become accustomed to our economic dominance in the world, forgetting that it wasn’t reckless deals and get-rich-quick schemes that got us where we are, but hard work and smart ideas–quality products and wise investments. We started taking shortcuts. We started living on credit, instead of building up savings.
Having been definitively contradicted by the CIA, Pelosi is now accusing the CIA of lying. This is very much the pot calling the kettle black, since we now know that Pelosi was indeed told about waterboarding, despite her claims to the contrary. She’s clearly hoping that by counterattacking she’ll be able to distract the press from her own lies.
UPDATE: On Pelosi’s press conference, Charles Krauthammer comments:
Well, her news conference today was an utter disaster. She was nervous. She was shifty. Her syntax was incomprehensible. And there were times when she had had to refer to her original statement because she couldn’t remember what the current truth — her current truth was.
It reminds me of a line in a Graham Greene novel in which a spy says “I prefer to tell the truth. It’s easier to memorize.” Well, she didn’t have it memorized. You had a sense that if you’d attached a lie detector to her in that news conference, it would have short circuited.
Look, her problem was this. She was internally contradictory with one point. Within 30 seconds she contradicted her own statement on what she had heard from her staff in February ’03. She was contradicted by the evidence of others like Porter Goss.
Her charge of the CIA lying to her is utterly implausible. Why would it lie to her and tell all the others the truth? It makes no sense at all.
UPDATE: Steny Hoyer won’t back Pelosi’s allegations.
UPDATE: Leon Panetta backs the CIA:
Panetta, President Obama’s pick to run the clandestine agency and President Clinton’s former chief of staff, wrote in a memo to CIA employees Friday that “CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing ‘the enhanced techniques that had been employed,’” according to CIA records.
UPDATE: The WSJ comments:
On the merits, it seems highly implausible that the CIA would have lied to Mrs. Pelosi. Briefings are attended by more than one agency official, and a legislative liaison typically writes up a summary memo describing significant exchanges. Agency careerists hardly loved the Bush Administration after the Iraq WMD fiasco, and the controversy over “torture” has raged for years. If the CIA had misled Congress on a matter that was so politicized, surely someone in the agency would have leaked it long before now, if only to deflect blame onto the unpopular (and soon to depart) Republicans.
Mrs. Pelosi is now caught in a humiliation of her own design that will only escalate if she insists on an interrogation “truth commission.” To adapt a famous phrase, we’re not sure her reputation can handle the truth.
This Washington Post chart, showing that our national fiscal outlook is either terrible (if you believe the White House) or appalling (if you believe the CBO), has been popular throughout the blogosphere:
Last March, the OMB director insisted that his estimate was better than the CBO estimate. But now, the OMB concedes that the CBO estimate was right, at least for this year, and next year is creeping up toward the CBO estimate as well:
This week, the Obama administration revised its own budget estimates and raised the projected deficit for this year to a record $1.84 trillion, up 5 percent from the February estimate. The revision for the 2010 fiscal year estimated the deficit at $1.26 trillion, up 7.4 percent from the February figure.
It’s an article of faith among the left — promoted during John Kerry’s failed presidential campaign — that General Eric Shinseki, formerly Army Chief of Staff and now VA Secretary, was fired for testifying to Congress that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to stabilize Iraq. If only President Bush had listened to General Shinseki, they cluck, Iraq might never have become such a mess.
Of course, the story is false. General Shinseki retired when his term as Chief of Staff ended on schedule. Also, Shinseki was wrong; the Surge stabilized Iraq with 160 thousand troops, far less than any reasonable interpretation of “several hundred thousand.”
Nevertheless, Shinseki had a point. Defeating the insurgency in Iraq ultimately required an increase in troop levels. The Surge was primarily a change in tactics, but it required additional troops to carry it out. Although he was wrong about the magnitude, he was right that we needed more than we had.
With this in mind, consider three facts:
- Today we are trying to replicate the Surge in Afghanistan.
- General David McKiernan, the US commander in Afghanistan, says he needs 30 thousand additional troops. President Obama agreed to send 17 thousand, a little more than half of what General McKiernan requested.
- General McKiernan was fired on Monday. (For real, unlike General Shinseki.)
Defense Secretary Gates says that McKiernan was not fired over his troop requests. Whether that’s true is anyone’s guess. (Personally, I’m inclined to believe it, because I’m inclined to believe Gates is an honorable man.) But the parallel between this true story and the Shinseki myth is striking.
Whatever the reason McKiernan was fired, the fact remains that the commander on the ground says we need more troops than the President is willing to send. This story is feeling awfully familiar.
UPDATE (12/5): Corrected the number of US troops at the peak of the surge to 160 thousand, which does not affect the argument in any material way.
The Economist has an interesting article on the technologies with which the military is experimenting to build military bases on the sea.
President Obama is right that releasing more photos of detainee abuse would make the war effort harder and would not help increase our understanding of what had happened there. All it would do is provide more propaganda ammunition to America’s enemies. I was going to post to that effect, but before I got a chance to do so, I read an eye-opening analysis by Andy McCarthy.
The background is the question of whether the Obama administration is bringing a new argument to the court or simply taking up the Bush administration’s case. The question is important because the court already ruled against the Bush argument, and the Obama administration failed to appeal. McCarthy explains that the answer is the latter (despite Robert Gibbbs’s hapless efforts to argue otherwise), which places the administration into an awkward legal position. He then continues:
Why all the legerdemain? Because . . . Obama is using this litigation as a smokescreen. He’s now getting plaudits for reversing himself and his Justice Department (which, in contrast to the Bush Justice Department, didn’t want to fight this case at all — just wanted to release the photos). But he is still trying to get away with voting present — which is to say, he is hiding behind the judges.
It is in Obama’s power, right this minute, to end this debacle by issuing an executive order suppressing disclosure of the photos due to national security and foreign policy concerns. As I’ve noted, there’s no need to get into a Bush-era debate over the limits of executive power here. In the Freedom of Information Act, indeed, in FOIA’s very first exemption, Congress expressly vests him with that authority. . .
Besides being simple, issuing such an order would be a strong position and the screamingly obvious right thing to do. But it would also be a fully accountable thing to do, and that’s why President Obama is avoiding it. He realizes — especially after he surrendered details of our interrogation methods to the enemy — that he can’t afford to undermine the war effort again so quickly and so blatanly; but his heart is with the Left on this — that’s why he agreed to the release of the photos in the first place and why he is trying to prevent mutiny within his base. So here’s the game: Obama tells those of us who care about national security that he is taking measures to protect the troops and the American people, but he also tells the Left that he hasn’t made any final decisions about the photos and that the question is really for the courts to decide. That’s why he carefully couched yesterday’s reversal as a “delay” in the release of the photos.
We’re happy as long as the photos stay under wraps, but the wink to the Left is his signal that if, after further review, the courts continue to hold that disclosure is required under the FOIA section the government has invoked — which is not the executive order provision but a section relating to the withholding of records “compiled for law enforcement purposes”— he may just shrug his shoulders and release the photos.
It doesn’t seem that the straddle is working. Not only is President Obama being savaged by the left, but he’s going to run into real trouble in court. McCarthy summarizes:
One last thing: I think the court rulings have been bad so far, but good or bad, I can assure you that federal judges don’t like to be toyed with. Supreme Court justices may not mind if the administration treats the media like a lap-dog and the public like we’re a bunch of rubes; but, regardless of their political leanings, the justices have goo-gobs of self-esteem, and they will not take kindly to being treated like pawns in the Obamaestro’s game.
UPDATE (5/22): It appears that Congress may bail out the president on this issue.